Carlos Tevez: Manchester City & Juventus agree £12m deal

Manchester City and Juventus have agreed a deal for striker Carlos Tevez to join the Italian side in a transfer worth up to £12m.
City accepted an offer of £10m that could rise by £2m with add-ons.

The Argentina international, 29, is expected in Italy on Wednesday for a medical and to discuss personal terms over a proposed three-year contract. When the fee is combined with wages and bonuses due to Tevez in the final year of his contract, City could save £27m. The two clubs reached an agreement at a meeting in London on Tuesday.

Tevez signed a five-year contract when he joined the Sky Blues in 2009 after previously playing for Manchester United. City paid his advisors – who owned his contract – a reported £25.5m fee, although some have claimed the figure was £47m. He has made 148 appearances for the club, scoring 74 goals, but the relationship with former manager Roberto Mancini soured in 2011 when he was fined and suspended following an incident in a Champions League match against Bayern Munich. City must now search for a replacement but have said they will not pay the £53m asking price for Napoli forward Edinson Cavani.


Bernstein defends Hodgson

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has defended England manager Roy Hodgson over his discussion of Rio Ferdinand’s international career on a tube train.

The England boss is reported to have told passengers on the London Underground last week that the Manchester United defender’s England career was over.

But Bernstein has sprung to Hodgson’s defence, insisting he had acted honourably and had paid the price for being prepared to interact with supporters.

"Roy Hodgson is a particularly decent guy, someone I have a huge respect for," Bernstein told Sky Sports.

"He travelled on public transport, unusual in this day and age for a high-profile person, which I think is something to be proud of.

"He spoke to fans and he got caught out with a particular word. I think it’s very sad that someone should phone the newspapers and actually in many ways he acted in an exemplary sort of a way.

"I think he should we should be very proud of someone who is prepared to speak to fans like that and I have no problem with him.

"He was sorry that he said that particular thing and he has said so and apologised to Rio. I actually I think he comes out of it extremely well. "

When asked if his public comments were disrespectful to Ferdinand, Bernstein added: "It was a slip of the tongue. I would rather focus on the general point of a high-profile person meeting the public, being out there, behaving in what I thought was a very commendable way."


St George’s Park centre of excellence in Burton to open

St George’s Park centre of excellence in Burton to open

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has described the opening of its new centre of excellence as an "historic" day for the English game.

The £105m St George’s Park complex in Staffordshire will house all 24 England teams, from junior to senior levels.

"We have to get more players through who can be full England internationals and this is where it will happen," Bernstein told BBC Radio 5 live.

"So much work has gone into this for so long and to see it now is fantastic."

The 330-acre St George’s Park will be officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday.

England’s players are using the facility for the first time this week as they prepare for their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Aimed at raising standards of play at all levels, it will provide a centre of excellence for training coaches and for sports medicine, sports science and psychology.

Among the facilities at St George’s Park are:

"Everything at Burton is aimed at the future and rivalling the national centres that have been at the heart of the well-being of the game in superpowers such as France, Spain and the Netherlands"

– 11 outdoor pitches, five of which are floodlit and have under-soil heating.

– A full-size indoor 3G artificial pitch with a viewing gallery for up to 200 people.

– An altitude chamber to mimic a variety of playing conditions.

– An indoor 60m sprint track with equipment to measure speed and running style.

– Walls adorned with sporting slogans, such as American Olympian Jesse Owens: "A lifetime of training for just 10 seconds."

– A new Hilton hotel featuring suites named after former England players and managers.

Bernstein described the facility as "inspirational" and said it made him feel optimistic about the future of the nation’s football.

He said: "This is the pinnacle clearly – and we hope that this will be an inspiration in a number of ways.

"One of the main objects of this, possibly almost the main object, is to produce thousands of more highly-qualified coaches.

"There’s a lot more happening in English football at the moment in terms of youth development. We’re trying to move young players away from this physical side, of wanting to win too much when they’re too young.

"We want more skill-based football, kids to enjoy their football more. There’s a great deal aimed at that."

England’s senior men’s team have not won a major international tournament since the 1966 World Cup and have failed to reach a semi-final since the 1996 European Championship.

The women’s side have made three World Cup quarter-finals and twice finished runners-up in the European Championship.

David Sheepshanks, chairman of St George’s Park, said the new complex can help England close the gap on recent World Cup winners such as France and Spain.

"This is a place to inspire young people and young coaches to invest in themselves and go beyond just getting the badge," he said.

"The teachers of the game have the defining influence. We are investing in the teachers so that we can get ahead of what they are doing in France and Spain.

"This is a deliberately long-term view. Really it is the investment in coaches that is crucial and from 2020 onwards we will have winning England teams."


Owen Coyle is sacked by Bolton Wanderers

Owen Coyle is sacked by Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers have sacked manager Owen Coyle.

The Trotters, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, are 18th in the Championship after winning only three of their 10 matches.

On Saturday they were beaten 2-1 at fellow strugglers Millwall.

Coyle, 46, took over at Bolton in January 2010, six months after guiding Burnley to promotion to the Premier League and consequently signing a contract extension at Turf Moor.

The Trotters went on to survive a relegation battle while Burnley went down.

In 2010-11 Bolton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and finished 14th after spending much of the season in the top half of the table, but last season they were relegated, ending an 11-year spell in the top flight.

“It is the right time for a change. We set a target at the beginning of the season and want to get back on track”

In March Bolton and Coyle were widely praised for the support they gave to Fabrice Muamba, after the midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest while playing against Tottenham Hotspur.

Following relegation it was revealed the club were carrying debts of £110m, mostly owed to Isle of Man-based owner Eddie Davies.

On Saturday Coyle described the defeat at Millwall as the lowest point of his managerial career but insisted he had no intention of resigning.

However, after meeting Davies and chairman Phil Gartside on Tuesday, he parted company with the club.

In a statement on the club website , Gartside said: "Owen poured his heart and soul into the job, both on and off the pitch, and he led our club with great dignity during some very challenging times.

"It is the right time for a change. We set a target at the beginning of the season and want to get back on track.

"I would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Owen, Sandy Stewart and Steve Davis for all their hard work during their time at Bolton Wanderers."

Coyle said: "I have always been driven to act in the best interests of the club and care passionately about it.

"I had fantastic times here as a player and it has been a privilege to have held the post of manager.

"I want to thank the fans for their backing since I returned, the chairman Phil Gartside and the owner Eddie Davies for their support and friendship and the club’s staff and players for all their effort and commitment."

Academy manager Jimmy Phillips and head of academy coaching and development Sammy Lee will take joint temporary charge of the first-team squad.

Former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy is among the front-runners to replace Coyle.

Roy Keane, who guided Sunderland to promotion into the Premier League, is also regarded as a possible candidate.


Steven Fletcher: Wolves reject third Sunderland bid

Wolves have rejected a third offer from Sunderland for striker Steven Fletcher.

The Championship side have previously turned down bids of £10m and £12m for the 25-year-old, and this latest offer falls short of Wolves’ £15m valuation.

Fletcher submitted a transfer request earlier this month, following Sunderland’s £12m offer.

“We want to keep our best players,” said Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey. “If our valuations are not met then they will remain at Wolves.”

Fletcher, who scored 12 goals in 26 Premier League appearances as Wolves were relegated from the top flight last season, has two years left on his Molineux contract, with an option for a third.

His former club Burnley will be due 15% of any profit Wolves make on a player they paid £7m for in 2010.

Fletcher missed Saturday’s Capital One Cup tie against Aldershot with an ankle injury and, with Wolves due to start their Championship campaign at Leeds on Saturday, Moxey is eager to bring the transfer saga to a close.

“All parties need to draw a line under this matter, which has now dragged on for more than a month,” he said.

“We need to focus on the season ahead and these disruptions to the squad’s preparations are unhelpful.

“We cannot allow this speculation to drag on indefinitely up to the closure of the transfer window.”

Sunderland are short of attacking options following the departures of Asamoah Gyan and Nicklas Bendtner, and boss Martin O’Neill has made Fletcher his prime attacking target this summer.

No Sunderland player reached double figures in goals last season, with Bendtner and Stephane Sessegnon the top-scorers with eight.

O’Neill believes Fletcher, who scored seven headers last season, will give Sunderland’s attack much-needed potency.

Fletcher has suffered Premier League relegations with Burnley and Wolves during the past three seasons, but his goals-to-games ratio is better than one in three.


Kelly Smith laments Rio snub for GB women’s football team

Kelly Smith says it would be a shame if the Great Britain women’s football team did not compete at the Rio Olympics.

The Football Association has said it is unlikely because qualification can only come from the Women’s World Cup in 2015, in which home nations take part separately.

“That’s a shame because you see the exposure we got at these Olympics,” Arsenal striker Smith told the BBC.

“I’m praying that in 2016 in Brazil there is a women’s team.”

The FA has already said that Great Britain will not send a men’s team to the 2016 Olympics because they would need to qualify via the European Under-21 Championship.

In the women’s case, Britain would have to be one of the top three European teams at the Women’s World Cup in 2015.

Both the men’s and women’s team qualified for London 2012 only because of their host status.

The desire within the FA, including manager Hope Powell and the players, is to compete in Rio, but unifying the homes nations for World Cup qualifying would signal the end for the chances of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to compete individually.

Those political issues come after the British women’s team made a real impact at the London Olympics, despite being knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Canada.

A record British women’s football crowd of 70,584 saw the host nation beat Brazil 1-0 at Wembley in their last group game.

And Smith, who is England’s record goalscorer, wants women’s football to build on that success.

The 33-year-old added: “We got a tremendous amount of exposure. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To play in [front of] record crowds, to get people to come out and support women’s football was fantastic.

“Hopefully now we can build on the momentum of that and see more crowds at women’s football. I’ve played in four European Championship and two World Cups, so to add this now to my playing career, it’s up there.

“I’ve played in America for a number of years and the Americans view that [the Olympic experience] as the ultimate, so why can’t we have a GB team?”

Smith will be aiming to help England qualify for the 2013 European Championship in Sweden when Powell’s side take on Croatia at Walsall next month.


Celtic to claim old firm spoils

There’s no guarantee that Rangers will still be in existance by August/September time when they are due to go head-to-head with Celtic again.

In fact, it’s very difficult to see Rangers participating in next season’s SPL no matter what happens given events this week.

It says something that Sunday’s Old Firm match at Parkhead is almost meaningless for those in blue. The most important thing for them is that their club survives.

For those in green it’s a chance to celebrate their title success in their first home match since securing the championship at Kilmarnock as well as an opportunity to deliver another blow to their rivals.

Rangers may have won the last derby clash at Ibrox against the odds, but they are 4/1 to take the three points again with Celtic odds-on across the board.

Celtic will want to gain revenge for their recent defeat at Ibrox and morale in the visiting camp must be at an all-time low, and not just because of financial matters.

Kyle Lafferty was suspended this week by Ally McCoist for a breach of discipline suggesting all is not well, although the Gers have showed admirable spirit since going into administration, particularly recently, picking up four successive wins.

But Celtic have won 14 of 16 at home in the SPL and have lost only six goals in the process.

And they will be looking to give their fans a lift after losing to Hearts in the Scottish Cup semi-finals two weeks ago, which ended their chances of winning a double.

Celtic are little value at a best of 4/5 unless you are a big hitter. Although they have already won the title, the fact they lost at Ibrox and the furore over Neil Lennon’s sending off that followed, I think Celtic will be well up for this and will want to put their rivals back in their place.

I reckon backing Celtic to win by three goals or more at 5/1 may pay dividends.

Elsewhere, I like the look of Joe Ledley to get on the scoresheet at anytime.

The midfielder has scored nine times this season, a tally which is more impressive given he has filled in at left back on a number of occasions.

One of his nine goals came against the Gers earlier in the season at Celtic Park and he was on target in the title-winning match at Kilmarnock.

Ledley is likely to be given license to get forward with Rangers almost certain to set up fairly defensively.

4/1 looks a reasonable price for the Welshman to get on target especially as he is 5/2 in places.


Munich are favourites for the Champions League after setting up a final clash with Chelsea

Bayern Munich are favourites for the Champions League after setting up a final clash with Chelsea.

The Germans beat Real Madrid 3-1 on penalties following a 3-3 aggregate draw in their semi-final on Wednesday.

Bayern, available at 22/1 when the tournament began, are now a best of 1/2 with Coral, Betfred and bodog to lift the trophy on May 19 when the final takes place in their home stadium, the Allianz Arena.

Chelsea, who stunned Barcelona with a 3-2 aggregate win in the first semi-final, are out at 15/8 with Boylesports and bodog. 7/4 is more widely available.

The Blues hit 28/1 in the outright market after losing the first leg of their last-16 clash against Napoli 3-1 in February.

As for the 90-minute match betting, Bayern are odds-on at 10/11 with Hill’s.

Sky Bet fancy the Germans even more – they go 5/6 – but they are prepared to offer 13/5 about Chelsea, while they have the draw out at 5/2.

Both sides will be missing key men for the showdown.

David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luiz Gustavo all picked up yellow cards against Real which will rule them out of the final.

Chelsea will be missing John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles due to suspension.

Chelsea, however, have yet to conquer Europe. The closest they have come was in 2008 when they lost the final on penalties to Manchester United.


Side with the South Americans

Side with the South Americans

Valencia were soundly beaten by Atletico Madrid in last week’s Europa League semi-final first leg but a late goal in the capital gave them some hope ahead of Thursday’s return fixture.

Madrid will now only take a two-goal lead to the Mestalla after Ricardo Costa made it 4-2 with his injury-time strike.

While Madrid remain firm favourites to reach next month’s final in Bucharest, the tie is far from over, particularly with two away goals in the bank. They will also go into this one knowing they have not lost any of their last 21 home games in this competition.

Valencia will have little choice but to go for it but the way they were picked apart in the first leg suggests they have a big task keeping their visitors out.

The good news for Valencia is they have managed to do so twice in the Spanish league this season, while going forward they have been scoring plenty of late.

In each of their last three home games they’ve banged in four goals, while they also scored three here against Bayer Leverkusen and seven against Genk in the Champions League earlier in the season, not to mention four against PSV in this competition.

In short, we’re expecting goals but with the layers once again thinking along the same lines and keeping prices low in their over 2.5 and 3.5 goal markets, we’re going to head to the anytime scorer markets in search of profit.

For Valencia, Jonas is the man we’re happy to side with a what appears to be a decent price of 5/2.

He’s netted 16 times in 49 apperances this season, while his recent form is good as he’s netted four times in the last four games, a run which includes one in last week’s first leg and another at the weekend against Real Betis.

The Brazilian looks a decent alternative to his better-known colleague Roberto Soldado, who is odds-on in places.

We’re not going to stop there though.

With Atletico looking more than capable of punishing Valencia at the back, we can’t resist backing Falcao to score for them.

The Colombian has a wonderful record in the Europa League, finishing as its top scorer last season with 17, while this term he’s bagged 10 making him the joint leader in the scoring charts. During the two-year period, he averages exactly a goal a game.

Throw in the fact that he’s found the target 22 times in 30 league games and you begin to wonder why he’s available at 2/1 to net here.

Like Jonas, Falcao has four in his last four outings and scored twice in the first leg.

With his side in good form having won six of their last eight in all competitions, the price looks too big to us.

The other semi-final looks more evenly poised – Sporting Lisbon taking a 2-1 advantage into the second leg away to Athletic Bilbao.

Bilbao, who famously knocked Manchester United out in the last 16, are a best of 8/11 to qualify, which looks about right.

Sporting’s recent away record in Europe is not great but of course they don’t have to win the match to reach the final.

Athletic have impressed in this competition but such has been their stuttering domestic form – they are only sixth in the Primera Division – you can’t help but fear they will throw in one of their shockers in Europe eventually.

We’ll swerve this one and keep our fingers crossed for a goal feast on the east coast where a goal for either Jonas or Falcao will ensure a profit.



Wayne Rooney was the only significant absentee from the open portion of training ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League last-32 decider against Ajax at Old Trafford tomorrow.

There has been no suggestion of an injury to Rooney, although with an important Barclays Premier League trip to Norwich looming on Sunday, manager Sir Alex Ferguson will not want to take any chances with his star man.

The remainder of United’s first-team squad were present, including midfielder Anderson, who has been missing recently.

On a windy day during which temporary fences erected to shield building work at United’s Carrington training complex blew down, long-time absentee Michael Owen was spotted doing some jogging on his own as he tries to battle back from injury.

Owen has not featured for United since suffering a thigh muscle problem in a Champions League group phase match against Otelul Galati in November.

United would appear to be in little danger of early elimination following their 2-0 first-leg win in Amsterdam last week. Victory would secure a last-16 meeting with either Lokomotiv Moscow or Athletic Bilbao next month.